Thursday, November 30, 2006

Very true

"The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie -- deliberate, contrived, and dishonest -- but the myth ... persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. Too often, we hold fast to the cliches of our forebears. We subject all facts to a prefabricated set of interpretations. We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought."

-- John F. Kennedy

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Rupert Murdoch hates Brazil!

You got to be kidding.

Pelo menos os comentários foram bons, tirando algumas pérolas:
"bom, como sempre os americanos insistem em nos humilhar, este filme é uma ofensa ao nosso povo, que bem diferentes deles, somos educados e recepcionistas"

"Eu nao sei como o Brasil permite uma filmagem dessa sem ao menos ler o roteiro do filme"

"Eu penso que a FOX ganha muito dinheiro aqui com seus canais de TV CAbo e sua MASSIFICAÇÃO COMERCIAL sobre nossas crianças e adolescentes através de sesu desenhos animados e de seus seriado que instigam o consumismo, a vingança a violência e a discórdia. De certo eles fizeram um filme assim em função a pouca vergonha que temos."

"O pior é que no fim do filme os americanos vão conseguir escapar..., e como heróis, ainda. Os "cineastas" sequer dão o devido crédito aos bandidos brasileiros..." (meu preferido!)

Global warming my ass!

Arctic blast leaves thousands stranded

Vejam como ficou a famosa sede FYI:


Bonito neh? Quase compensa as 3:30h de commute (one way, of course).

Sunday, November 26, 2006

The real Brazilian inequality

The Supreme Court of the United States pays a U$171,500 annual salary for its chief justice and U$164,100 for the associate justices.

The Brazilian Supreme Court (“Supremo Tribunal Federal”) wants to raise the salary of its chief justice (ironically named “President”) to R$390,000 a year, while the other justices’ salaries will go up to R$338,000. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to convert these salaries since cost of living is so different between the two countries, but even if you do that, the salary for the Brazilian justices now total U$179,723 for the chief and U$155,760 for the others (2.17 conversion rate).

If you take into account the difference in size of both economies, the GDP per capita, and so on, these numbers are more than surprising: they are shameful. In the US, the average annual salary is around U$42,000 a year. That means that the Supreme Court Chief Justice earns a little over 4 times the average income. The Brazilian average income is around R$12,000/year, so the new justices’ salaries will amount to 32.5 to 28 times that.

In the US, the justice’s salaries are defined by congress. In Brazil, they are determined by the justice themselves. Also, in Brazil the court’s salaries are by law defined as the highest paid by the government. Needless to say that each increase like this causes a waterfall effect all over the other government branches. No limits or checks-and-balances here.

Worst of all, for all the problems and flaws of the American legal system, equating it with the Brazilian system is really ludicrous. According to the Heritage Freedom Index, "The judiciary (Brazil's) …is inefficient, subject to political and economic influence, and plagued by problems relating to lack of resources and training of officials." Judicial decisions can take years, and "decisions of the Supreme Federal Tribunal are not automatically binding on lower courts, leading to more appeals than would otherwise occur." I can vouch for that. I personally experienced both systems and no comparison is possible.

Now, Brazil is a country that abhors inequality. The left rose to power based on the “lets fight the inequality” flag.

Apparently, state sponsored inequality doesn’t count.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

It's a Dem world

2008 – The press is not wasting time

One of the "weaknesses" of Mitt Romney is the fact that he is Mormon. A lot of people still think that Mormons are in favor of polygamy. Expect a deluge (no pun) of articles about polygamy for the next two years. Not direct attacks on Romney or the Mormon Church, but little “informational tidbits” you would not usually see in the pre-Romney world. If you look at MSNBC today you can already find examples.

Ironically, there is that little unknown fact that Harry Reid, the new democratic senate leader, is also a Mormon.

But Harry is one of the good ones, of course.

Activists Dems

Talking about 2008, this last election was very interesting for me because it was the first democratic victory I’ve seen live since I immigrated to the US is 98. It is funny how tame democrats are right now. All that talk about voting fraud, the power of Republican money, the takeover of the religious right, it all disappeared magically.

This must have been the first honest election in years.

A few more predictions

I’m feeling clairvoyant today (it must be Maria Cantwell’s alien powers changing me). Here are a few more predictions for the near future:
- Democrats will NOT force the issue of getting out of Iraq until the presidential election
- John Edwards has a bigger chance to become the chosen candidate than Hillary
- Dems will start backing John McCain big time
- Even though Nancy Pelosi says it won’t happen, impeachment procedures will be initiated and there is a good chance that the House approves it. Payback is a bitch.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Be happy! Computador para Todos!!!

O Cláudio achou mais uma boa do nosso governo papaizão: Computador para Todos!!!

Melhor da história toda: como eles traduzem mouse - "dispositivo apontador!"

E depois ainda dizem que eu levo as coisas a sério demais...

Monday, November 20, 2006

I am not alone

Obrigado Moacyr Scliar

"O Partido do Pinto Alegre

A distribuição de remédios contra a disfunção erétil foi um absoluto sucesso, em todos os sentidos, e acabou tendo um efeito inesperado. Os idosos que se encontravam regularmente para receber o medicamento, muitos dos quais não se conheciam (na verdade, nem saíam de casa), agora começavam a conviver; saindo do ambulatório iam para o bar tomar uma cerveja e bater um animado papo. Muitos deles, que antes se mostravam desanimados, agora tinham uma renovada confiança no futuro. Confiança que, diga-se de passagem, era explicável.

Vários ali haviam sido pessoas destacadas no município, empresários, profissionais, líderes comunitários. Nada impedia que voltassem a mostrar o seu valor. A certa altura a idéia emergiu espontaneamente: por que não criar um partido político?

Discutiram o assunto, chegaram a um acordo -sim, aquilo seria uma grande iniciativa- e de imediato puseram mãos à obra. O que não foi difícil: o nome da agremiação emergiu naturalmente, Partido do Pinto Alegre (PPA). O hino, conforme sugestão de um dos membros, antigo esquerdista, seria o da Internacional Comunista, com uma pequena adaptação: no verso inicial, "De pé, ó vítimas da fome", a expressão "vítimas da fome" seria substituída por uma outra, engraçada e impublicável. Um dos fundadores do PPA, conhecido artista plástico, desenhou a bandeira, que era um falo estilizado rodeado pelos conhecidos comprimidos do remédio.

A convenção que fundou o PPA foi uma verdadeira festa, transmitida a todo o país pela televisão. O comitê central apresentou aos membros do partido (membros era, ali, uma palavra constantemente pronunciada, e com muito orgulho) um projeto de estatuto. Diziam, entre outras coisas, que o ingresso na agremiação era vedado a menores de 60 anos, que o partido lutaria pelos direitos sexuais -sempre, claro, com meios democráticos: "ereção pela eleição, eleição pela ereção" era a divisa proposta para as campanhas eleitorais.

Obviamente nem todo mundo estava de acordo com o movimento. Alguns achavam aquilo uma coisa francamente imoral; outros viam na iniciativa um complô da indústria farmacêutica, sempre ansiosa por vender remédios. De maneira geral, porém, as pessoas aprovavam. Um vereador lembrou a frase de Tancredo Neves, segundo a qual o poder é afrodisíaco, ponderando que a inversa é verdadeira, que afrodisíacos (ou equivalentes) também podem levar ao poder.

Ou seja: o PPA parece ter inaugurado uma nova fase na política. Como diz a grata esposa de um dos fundadores, o pinto finalmente virou galo. E o canto desse galo está destinado a ecoar longe."

Sunday, November 19, 2006

The role of the government

I shouldn’t be surprised that some people didn’t find anything wrong with the fact that a local government in Brazil was handing out free Viagra.

But still, I am.

This is one of those subjects where is easy to misplace the actual blame. You could say that this is all because of the lefty press, the socialist government, or even the “intellectual elite” that plagues Brazil since I can remember.

But that would be unfair. The real problem is the complete ignorance of the whole country about the role of the government.

The government is (or should be) just a provider of essential services. More specifically, it should be the provider of services that cannot be provided efficiently by the private enterprise and that are needed to enable private enterprise to function optimally. The list of such services is debatable but if that simple concept is understood most of the real basic disagreements go away.

So it is NOT the role of the government to “make people happy”. Just like is not the role of the government make people clean, fit, informed or entertained.

This is a classic slippery slope because someone may argue that by making people clean or informed you are enabling them to be productive and therefore fulfilling the ultimate role of government which is to enable private enterprise.

Still, the distinction should be clear: government should only get involved in tasks that cannot be done by private citizens independently. The fact that viagra is expensive and that old people like to have sex is as far away from a government issue as it can be.

It is also part of the government role to provide a structure that enables the government itself. It is clear that this is not an efficient process and waste is plentiful. However, to use this kind of problem as a justification to the involvement of the government in areas outside is role is ridiculous.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

The Stupidest Country on Earth

Free Viagra spices up small Brazilian town.

Who in their right mind can take this country seriously?

Friday, November 17, 2006

Remembering Milton Friedman

This is for the tax cuts for the rich crowd:

“I am favor of cutting taxes under any circumstances and for any excuse, for any reason, whenever it's possible.”

This one is for the minimum wage lovers:

"The high rate of unemployment among teenagers, and especially black teenagers, is both a scandal and a serious source of social unrest. Yet it is largely a result of minimum wage laws. We regard the minimum wage law as one of the most, if not the most, antiblack laws on the statute books."

And these two go to my protectionist friends:

“Most economic fallacies derive - from the tendency to assume that there is a fixed pie, and that one party can gain only at the expense of another.”

“The black market was a way of getting around government controls. It was a way of enabling the free market to work. It was a way of opening up, enabling people.”


And finally, the best one:

"There is all the difference in the world, however, between two kinds of assistance through government that seem superficially similar: first, 90 percent of us agreeing to impose taxes on ourselves in order to help the bottom 10 percent, and second, 80 percent voting to impose taxes on the top 10 percent to help the bottom 10 percent -- William Graham Sumner's famous example of B and C decided what D shall do for A. The first may be wise or unwise, an effective or ineffective way to help the disadvantaged -- but it is consistent with belief in both equality of opportunity and liberty. The second seeks equality of outcome and is entirely antithetical to liberty."

So simple, yet so many still don’t understand.

He will be missed.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Build It and They Will Come

The New York Times reports that last month Nissan bought an Island and built a driving course to promote its new Sentra model. But while Nissan paid real money to the promotional assets, the island and the driving course were imaginary. They were part of the online game Second Life.

Find more about the new markets being created by massive online games here. Another little reminder of why this silly thing called videogame moves 10 Billion dollars a year. It should also be another good way to show that those who try to stay out of the race will fall more and more behind.

That is true for all kinds of protectionist policies. They will ultimately fail, and the damage is not always evident. Capitalism is our nature. Those who understand this will always lead.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

General politics

Now that is interesting. Gen. Abizaid, the same one that asked for Rumsfeld resignation just a few days before the last election, said today that setting a time table for withdrawal would be a great mistake and that “he remains optimistic that we can stabilize Iraq”.

This is just another example how politicized this whole Iraq deal is. It is undeniable that the decision to keep Rumsfeld AND the fact that people thought the Dems’ strategy of quick withdrawal was agreed on by generals played a big role on the election.

Now that push comes to shove, things change. Nobody wants to be responsible for the carnage (much worse than the current situation) that would ensue after a quick American withdrawal.

That’s politics.

Monday, November 13, 2006

The right to be wrong

Poucas pessoas escrevem mais bobagens do que Emir Sader.

Nenhum blogueiro é tão chato e presunçoso quanto o Sr. do biscoito.

Mas nessa aqui, estou do lado dos dois. É um absurdo total o que fizeram contra o Sader.

E o Brasil avança rápido. Ladeira abaixo.

UPDATE
O Claudio lembra que racismo no Brasil é crime hediondo (matar não é, logo se você odeia um negro, mate-o mas não chame-o de termos racistas). Como o Emir chamou o sujeito de racista, acusou de crime hediondo... E por isso a punição pesada.

Olha, eu sei que pode ser ironico que a esquerda pague por mais uma lei cretina que ela mesma empurrou goela abaixo, mas não acho que um erro justifique o outro.

Então minha revolta é dupla: contra essa lei estúpida e com a punição absurda que surgiu da lei estúpida.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

The America Democrats want

I was talking with an American friend about the Democrat’s victory, and explained that for me it is especially hard to hear about all these projects they have in mind because I come from a place where most of that stuff has been actually implemented.

My friend didn’t quite believe me, so I came up with a list:

- High taxes
- Universal Health care
- Minimum wage (updated frequently)
- Expensive gasoline
- Strong labor unions
- "World's most advanced labor legislation"
- Strict anti-gun regulation
- Low spending with defense

So, the America Democrats want already exists. Is it too much to ask them to move south? I’m pretty sure they would love the parties and our famous jeitinho.

If you really stop to think about this it’s a win-win situation.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Why?

Xbox 360 chega em 1º de dezembro ao Brasil, por R$ 2.999,00

Custo nos EUA:
Console: $399
Kameo: Elements of Power: $49.99
Perfect Dark: $49.99
Project Gotham Racing 3: $49.99
Remote Control: $29.99

Total: US$ 578.96 = RS$ 1273.71

Antes de eu colocar a culpa em lugares indevidos, pergunto aos que sabem mais: De onde vem esses RS$1,726.278? Impostos? Outros custos de importação?(quais?) Margem de lucro? (Porquê a MS cobraria mais num país que tem poder econômico menor?)

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Be careful what you wish for...

Jane Galt reminds everybody just how quickly the libertarians that changed sides yesterday will be regretting their decision.

Somehow saying 'I told you so' turned out to be a lot less satisfying than I imagined.

The day after

So, the Dems did win. How about that? What does it prove?

First of all, even though the Dems gained a lot the overall results were still close. There is no big shift in basic issues. I think that changes were motivated by immediate issues, mostly Iraq.

So something will change regarding Iraq. What will happen? Nobody knows, since Democrats never defined what they want. Why people still voted for change? Frustration is not the most logical sentiment.

Obviously is not the end of the world. A lot of Republicans were pissed because this congress was not conservative enough. Spending is a big concern. But in many ways, the best thing is that now Democrats will have to take responsibility for whatever happens. They want to change, and now they will be forced to define what and how this will be. Another good consequence about yesterday is to prove again how absurd this whole deal about republicans stealing elections or being part of an ignorant immovable mass that can never change their minds. Americans historically revise their opinions and we should be happy about that.

I am a big believer in the wisdom of the crowds. Not mobs, but crowds. It is not a perfect system, but it is the best one. The people spoke and some ideological variety was introduced. Now Democrats need to worry about what they will actually do and Republicans need to try to understand what has changed in 2 years.

The reason I am not pessimistic as I was with the Brazilian elections is that the alternatives are still there. Maybe yesterday will help the quality of the 2008 presidential candidates.

Monday, November 06, 2006

About "the wave"...

"The last Pew Research poll was taken in early October. In a month, the Democrats have lost non-minorities altogether. The gap among all whites went from +5 Democrats to +5 GOP, a ten-point swing. White females had supported Democrats by a 15-point margin and a majority (55-40), but now give the GOP a 2-point lead. The Democrats have also lost the middle class, a big problem in this election.

Households earning between $50K-$75K and $30K-$50K have both slipped to the GOP. The former switched from a 14-point margin for the Democrats to an eight-point Republican lead, while the latter has had an even more dramatic shift. Those earners had favored Democrats by 22 points, but now go Republican by 3. The Democrats even lost the tie they had with earners above $75K, and now trail there by seven. They did extend their margin for earners below $30K from 25 points to 30."

From Captain's Quarters

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Who Are the Recruits?

Income

Like their peers in 1999 and 2003, recruits in 2004 and 2005 came primarily from middle-class areas. Poor areas are proportionally underrepre­sented in the wartime years (2003–2005).



Education

Given the nature of the military rank structure, most enlisted recruits do not have a college edu­cation or degree. Members of the armed forces with higher education are more often commis­sioned officers (lieutenant and above). In 2004, 92.1 percent of active-duty officer accessions held baccalaureate degrees or higher.

While the military has changed its policies to allow flexibility in recruiting standards, it has cer­tainly not abandoned them. The current guidelines allow each force the flexibility to accept recruits who satisfy only one criterion: either a high school diploma or an above-average score on the AFQT, which is a standard equal to or exceeding the gen­eral youth population.



Race



Conclusion

With regard to income, education, race, and regional background, the all-volunteer force is repre­sentative of our nation and meets standards set by Congress and the Department of Defense. In con­trast to the patronizing slanders of antiwar critics, recruit quality is increasing as the war in Iraq contin­ues. Although recent recruiting goals have been dif­ficult to meet, reenlistment is strong and recruit quality remains high. No evidence supports argu­ments for reinstating the draft or altering recruiting policies to achieve more equitable representation.

Who Are the Recruits? The Demographic Characteristics of U.S. Military Enlistment, 2003–2005
by Tim Kane, Ph.D.
Center for Data Analysis Report #06-09

Friday, November 03, 2006

It’s not the end of the world as we know it



I know the press has to sell the news, but isn’t silly how they exaggerate everything?

People are calling this next election the “Democratic wave”. At the same time, analysts think democrats *might* pick up 4 or 5 seats in the senate.

If you look at this graph (senate distribution since 1857) you can realize how stupid this notion of “great change” is. If it does happen, it will be a blip.

You want a tidal wave? Look at 1866 when Republicans gained 18 seats, or 1960 when the Democrats won 16. You want a “great divide”? Look at the 40th Congress (1867-1869) where the Republicans lead 57 to 9 or the 75th Congress (1937-1939) when the Democrats had 76 against 16.

There is no huge change going on. And that is good.